Kings communicating better after player-only meeting

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Who knows if it will have a long-term impact, but it certainly changed things over the last three games.

We've seen the Kings hold player-only meetings before.

Heck, just last season Johnny Salmons called one. But not much came of it as the Kings continued to spiral further into the depths of the Western Conference standings under a Salmons trance.

But will it be different this time?

Recently, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas called a player-only meeting and while it's way too early to judge the long-term impact of it, the Kings' current three-game winning streak (the first of the season) would indicate that it changed something for the better.

The team has held its last three opponents (Portland, Orlando and Cleveland) to an average of 38 percent from the field and they also dominated the glass in the last two games (out-rebounding their opponents 104-69). The mood in the locker room has noticeably improved, the rotations on defense have been there and the players are actually talking and smiling on the floor. Maybe they could be…having fun?

DeMarcus Cousins, who was named Western Conference player of the Week on Monday, said the meeting helped a lot in the communication department.

"The main thing is guys just communicating with one another and being able to talk with one another, so that's the biggest thing and that was something we really stressed in that meeting and I mean we've been doing a great job so far," Cousins told reporters after the Kings beat the Cavs by 44 points on Sunday. "I really feel like that meeting helped us out a lot, and I feel like some guys were holding a lot of stuff in we had to get off our chest and, I mean, we've been playing some good basketball since."

Rudy Gay has been stellar so far as a member of the Kings (in 10 of his 15 games with the team, he has scored 20 points or more. He also is shooting a career-high 52 percent from the field, not bad at all.) Gay said the player-only meeting helped everyone in the locker room grow up a little.

"We've become adults within these couple of games and we're playing like it" -Rudy Gay

"The player meeting to me was just a way of us just, you know, a way of the team to become adults. We've become adults within these couple of games and we're playing like it," Gay said. "Got us to really trust each other and do away with the petty stuff and, you know, the selfish play."

Jason Thompson, who has been through his fair share of player-only meetings over his five-plus seasons with the Kings, said he's noticed a difference since the meeting as well.

"Sometimes you need talks like that and certain types of motivation and I think for the most part, you know, we got a lot out of it," Thompson told reporters Sunday. "Ever since that meeting, a lot of things have changed."

Not underestimating opponents with poor records was apparently a point of emphasis at the meeting, and the Kings certainly appear to have got a lot out of that because they did not underestimate the Magic or Cavs. Instead, they decided to vaporize them.

The unfortunate part of all of this, however, is now the team is setting off on a six-game road trip through the Western Conference (Indiana, Minnesota, Memphis, Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Houston.) The Kings will have to build on what they established at home in these last three games if they want to have any sort of success over this stretch.

"We still have a long way to go so just try to take the momentum from these games, carry it to the next, but at the same time, just staying focused on the goal and that's being a consistent team defensively and offensively and playing together, communicating," Cousins said of the road trip.

Being consistent is something we all know has been a problem for these guys. Head coach Michael Malone knows that all too well.

"Consistency has been a word that we have used a lot, it's something that we have not shown that we can be most of season but in our last three games … I think the defense has been consistent, the effort has been there, the communication has been there," Malone said in his post game press conference Sunday. "Do we have breakdowns? Without a doubt, but our breakdowns are happening a little bit less often at the moment."

Maybe everyone from the players to the coaches to the fans will be scratching their heads a little bit less often in the near future.

Maybe.

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